This I Believe

Gretchen - Panama City, Florida
Entered on February 22, 2007

I believe in Running.

I started running exactly one year ago. My friend urged me to try a 5K. She told me that once I ran one, I’d become addicted and never turn back. I thought, “what the heck… why not? I’m 35-years-old and have been a team athlete all of my life, but I’ve never run a 5K. Why not add it to my list of life experiences…?”

Although happy with the decision to add a new sort of adventure to my life, I highly doubted I’d become “addicted” to RUNNING. It wasn’t remotely fun; and it didn’t remotely feel good. That “sport,” to me, was for people that had no other skills or for people that were too busy or too lazy to learn a “real” sport. (After all, who doesn’t know how to run?!)

Well, I did indeed run my first 5K, and it was awful! No –it wasn’t awful because I did poorly or didn’t finish. I actually did well. It was awful because I got way too hot; I felt like I was breathing through a straw; and, basically, when it was over, I felt like I wanted to die.

My friend, eager to hear about how fabulous the 5K experience was, said, “Soooo… was it great or what?! When are you doing the next one?” My reply: “Running-SHMUNNING!”

But then, months later, I found myself still running. Really, I know it sounds like the magical transformation cliché, but it’s true! I honestly don’t know what happened to my brain after that horrible 5K experience, but it somehow got programmed to make my body want to run!

Yes, my knees and hips hurt on occasion, and my once pretty toes now look like they belong to a clumsy construction worker… but the rest of me… the rest of me feels enlightened. I pay more attention to the area where I live and the areas I visit –always trying to seek out new routes to run. I pay attention to other runners –checking out their form, their stride, and even their shoes to see if there’s anything I can incorporate. What I eat and how it affects my body has now become obvious. It’s amazing.

But most of all, while I am running, I am aware of myself. I hear the tempo of my breathing, and I feel pleased knowing that I am the one that controls my pace and distance. I’ve begun to recognize when I am pushing my limits and when I’m just making excuses. I can tell the difference. When I’m finished, I feel lighter and accomplished. I know I’m the one that did it. No music; no teammates; no deadlines; no one to get permission from; no one to report to but myself.

Next week I am running my first marathon… and “myself” tells me… (sigh) I’m addicted.